Social media has carved its own space in the internet revolution, which has ushered in the age of communication. Social media has enhanced this with Facebook at the helm. Facebook’s reach is still growing and changing, and its effects are constantly mutating with profound consequences for the business world.
Facebook launched as an alternative to MySpace, then the dominant social media site. Its platform and system’s popularity exploded into the behemoth it is today. It is also adept and shrewd at adapting by constantly tweaking their platform, adding features—instant messaging, for one—and “updating” their privacy settings.
Facebook’s meteoric rise has been fast and the law has so far been unable to keep pace. Sources of laws such cases and legislation can take years to form and during that time issues related to Facebook rise and change multiple times. Facebook’s speed has profound consequences for Employment Law.
Facebook is straining some of the tensions in an employment relationship. One is the efficient use of company time. Facebook is becoming a daily, almost hourly, routine for many. Norwegian researchers have even developed a scale for Facebook addiction. This is coinciding with the rise of mobile computers; the smartphones. It makes Facebook is available at ease; at the push of an app icon. It is much easier to use Facebook on company time. Another layer is an employer’s policies on smartphone use at the work site and whether employees compensate by using Facebook on their work computers.
We are now reaching the point of smartphone market-penetration maturation in North America; the explosive growth in annual smartphone sales are leveling, which means that most who can afford a smartphone have one. This also means the smartphone is ubiquitous. Talent acquisition and retention strategies increasingly have social media use as a key plank. But tensions lie in the limits on using Facebook at and for work, and having employees switch from their regular use to a workplace one. It’s fine to spend an hour perusing your friend’s feeds and commenting at home, but perhaps not so while working. Employers now have to craft policies that lure and retain top talents while maintaining efficiency and professionalism.
Employers are increasingly embracing the growing role of Facebook and social media in the workplace, whose use span multiple areas. But integrating Facebook is just the start. Its volatile nature; the slow response by the law, and the sometimes devastating consequences of Facebook posts mean that employers must do more than anticipate where the law is headed with Facebook and social media—they have to devise forward-looking playbooks with philosophies, strategies and policies that can balance the fast and curving highway that is Facebook with the upcoming legal changes and the company’s goals.